THE EARLIEST COINS
The first coins minted in Britain were made in the Iron Age. Celtic tribes issued their own money from the 1st Century BC to the 1st Century AD.
They feature distinctive and abstract designs copying Greek and Roman coins, in gold, silver and bronze.
The Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD and used coins as a way of cementing their rule. Though nearly defeated by Queen Boudicca in the 60s AD, the Romans were victorious and would remain in Britain for the next 300 years. The Romans invented Britannia as we know her today. She was a personification of the new Roman province.
After the Romans abandoned Britain in 410 AD, the isles fell into a ‘Dark Age’. Coins disappeared. Saxon Kings of the 6th Century AD began to issue their own coins, based on European pieces, and are rare today.
William the Conqueror rose to the throne in 1066, after his victorious battle at Hastings. This period saw the beginning of high Medieval England and the start of a royal bloodline which lasts to this day.
THE HIGH MEDIEVAL PERIOD
The High-Medieval period was a time of warring families, crusading, plague and castles. Edward I is well-known for his wars with the Welsh and the Scots, and his new coinage set a standard for the money of the realm.
The coinage of England was modernised during the Tudor period. For the first time, English coins featured lifelike portraits, inspired by the Renaissance. King Henry VIII’s (1509-1547) aging and distinctive portrait appeared on silver Testoons and Groats in the final years of his reign.
THE CIVIL WAR
The English Civil War dominated much of the first half of the 1600s and resulted in the execution of a king, and a relatively unknown politician, Oliver Cromwell, rise to power.
The Georgian period produced some of the finest quality coins in British history. Pattern and proof coins were struck from specially engraved dies. The Guinea was the primary gold coin of these times.
THE VICTORIAN ERA
The reign of Queen Victoria witnessed the industrial revolution in full swing. Mechanisation of coin production, pioneered during the reign of George III, was used to great effect by the mint, producing spectacular coins of the Queen.